ITA Announces 2015 NAIA National Award Winners
SKILLMAN, NJ (May 11) - The ITA has announced its 2015 national award winners for NAIA men's and women's tennis. The national winners are listed below, followed by a brief description of each winner's accomplishments.
Men's Award Winners:
Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year - Chase Hodges, Georgia Gwinnett College
ITA Assistant Coach of the Year - Johnny Thornton, Lindsey Wilson College
ITA/Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship - Wesley Ng, Missouri Valley College
ITA Senior Player of the Year - Fabio Silva, Vanguard University
ITA Most Improved Senior Player of the Year - Miguel Grifol, Auburn University at Montgomery
ITA Player to Watch - Matias Hatem, Georgia Gwinnett College
ITA Rookie of the Year - Kevin Konfederak, Georgia Gwinnett College
Women's Award Winners:
Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year - Mark Goldin, Cardinal Stritch University
ITA Assistant Coach of the Year - Sara Hawkins, Savannah College of Art & Design
ITA/Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship - Clara Ruegsegger, Olivet Nazarene University
ITA Senior Player of the Year - Maria Perdomo-Medina, Brenau University
ITA Most Improved Senior Player of the Year - Jessica Trink, Arizona Christian University
ITA Player to Watch - Valeria Podda, Georgia Gwinnett College
ITA Rookie of the Year - Alice Baudeigne, Auburn University at Montgomery
Men's Award Winners
Chase Hodges, the 2015 Wilson/ITA Men's Coach of the Year, led his 2014-15 Georgia Gwinnett College squad to a 12-2 overall record and an undefeated record against NAIA competition. His top three singles players are ranked second, third and fourth in the ITA National NAIA Singles Rankings, while his top doubles teams are ranked fourth and fifth nationally. Hodges' team has consistently led its athletic department with the highest cumulative team GPA, and his players are active in the community, teaching hundreds of special needs children at the Special Olympics Tennis Drive held at university facilities. The reigning NAIA National Champions, Hodges' squad has been ranked No. 1 all season.
Johnny Thornton, the 2015 ITA Men's Assistant Coach of the Year, has an unparalleled knowledge of doubles. Thornton helped lead the Lindsey Wilson College men's team lead to a 19-2 regular season record this season. One of Thornton's players was named Player of the Year, while five others received first and second team All-Conference honors. Thornton is very competitive and energetic on the court, and he also spends time volunteering with area junior players.
Wesley Ng, the 2015 ITA/Arthur Ashe Jr. Men's for Leadership and Sportsmanship Award winner,exhibited outstanding character, leadership and sportsmanship in his four years at Missouri Valley College. Ng compiled a 4.0 GPA to go along with his 61-28 career singles and record and 57-19 career doubles record. Off the court, Ng majors in Education and believes that helping others, and for Ng in particular, working with kids, is what grants a person personal happiness. Ng's coach describes him as a player who shows up every day with a positive attitude, exhibits a great work ethic and who is always willing to lend a hand to teammates and coaches.
Fabio Silva, the ITA Senior Player of the Year, has posted a 23-1 record in his senior season, playing first and second singles for a team that won its first 25 matches and finished the regular season 25-1. Silva's career record at Vanguard is 70-3, as he posted a perfect 26-0 record as a sophomore and went 21-2 in his junior season. Silva is currently ranked No. 14 in the ITA National NAIA Singles Rankings, and is ranked No. 4 in the West region.
Miguel Grifol, the ITA Most Improved Senior Player of the Year, entered Auburn University at Montgomery's starting lineup as a sophomore, playing fourth singles and third doubles. Fighting through injuries and slipping in the lineup in his junior season, he returned as a tremendous force for his team as a senior, posting an undefeated 16-0 record in the spring playing mostly third singles. He also went 2-0 at first singles. Grifol is a tremendous leader for his team, practicing extra hours on his own, going to the gym, giving 120% effort every day in practice, and making sure he gives it all in his final year of competition.
Matias Hatem, the ITA Player to Watch, is currently ranked No. 6 in the nation in singles and No. 7 in the nation in doubles. During the fall, Hatem advanced to the final of the USTA/ITA NAIA South Regional tournament, where he lost in the finals to a teammate. Hatem defeated two top 50 players from NCAA Division 2 this season, and he has a combined singles and doubles record of 30-7. He has been an outstanding leader for Georgia Gwinnett College and played a huge role in their 2014 National Championship season by posting an undefeated individual record.
Kevin Konfederak, the ITA Rookie of the Year, is currently ranked No. 5 in the ITA National NAIA Singles Rankings and is the highest ranked freshman in the nation. He has played first and second singles in the spring, producing an 11-2 record. Among the players he has beaten are four players from Division II that currently rank in the ITA Division II National Singles Rankings at No. 39, No. 29, No. 13 and No. 4. Konfederak also has a 13-1 doubles record on the season. His results have proved that he is as good as it gets on the national level.
Women's Award Winners
Mark Goldin, the 2015 Wilson/ITA Women's Coach of the Year, has taken the Cardinal Stritch University women's tennis team to two conference championships in just two years of existence as a program. His team is the top-ranked NAIA team from their region in the national rankings, and they have posted a 20-2 record this season, including a 2-0 mark against Division I competition. Off the court, Goldin's players volunteer many hours around the community, including with the Special Olympics National Bowling Event, and also by teaching tennis to underprivileged children around the community.
Sara Hawkins, the 2015 ITA Women's Assistant Coach of the Year, contributes to her team's success in a variety of fashions. She assists with daily practices, workouts and recruiting, and is invaluably diligent with match preparations. Hawkins spearheads the team's consistent volunteering efforts with Habitat for Humanity and the Memorial Cancer Center. Her commitment to her team is a huge reason for its success on the court, as Savannah College of Art & Design has reached the NAIA National Championship quarterfinals in each of her two seasons with the team.
Clara Ruegsegger, the 2015 ITA/Arthur Ashe Jr. Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship Award winner, is her team's captain and leader, and has compiled a stellar record off the court. At Olivet Nazarene University she serves on the Student Philanthropy Council, the Grant Committee, the Social Work Council, and is the founder and President of the Social Justice Club. She was her university's representative at the National Freedom Summit in Kansas City, Missouri, and has spent time volunteering in orphanages, pregnancy care centers and senior homes. Ruegsegger works hard both on the court and off it, and exemplifies the characteristics of what this award signifies.
Maria Perdomo-Medina, the ITA Senior Women's Player of the Year, has played mostly No. 2 singles and No. 1 doubles throughout her playing career at Brenau University. She has been one of the top players in the NAIA since her arrival in 2011, is a three-time consensus NAIA All-American, and is undefeated in NAIA play during her senior season. She has the highest GPA on her team and the highest GPA in Brenau's Psychology program. The lone senior on her squad this season, Perdomo-Medina excelled in the role of team captain, and participated extensively in community service events.
Jessica Trink, the ITA Most Improved Senior Women's Player of the Year, improved her record in both singles and doubles each season, culminating in her reaching the semifinals of the USTA/ITA NAIA West Regional tournament this past fall. Trink is her team's leader, a great mentor who leads by example on and off the court, and a huge reason for Arizona Christian University's success in going 22-2 this year.
Valeria Podda, the ITA Player to Watch, has played first singles and first doubles player her career and helped Georgia Gwinnett College win a national title in 2014. Podda is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation in singles and No. 2 in doubles. During the fall, she advanced to the finals of the USTA/ITA NAIA South Regional Tournament and later advanced to the National Small College Championship semifinals. This season Podda has a combined singles and doubles record of 30-6. She plays with a tremendous amount of respect for her opponent and is her team's leader and captain.
Alice Baudeigne, the ITA Rookie of the Year, went 20-3 singles and 23-5 in doubles for Auburn University at Montgomery this season. She is currently the No. 4 ranked player nationally in the ITA National NAIA Singles Rankings and is No. 8 in doubles. In the fall, Baudeigne reached the semifinals of the USTA/ITA NAIA South Regional Singles Tournament and won the doubles title, going on to compete in the Small College Nationals in Sumter, South Carolina. Baudeigne earned Southern States Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year and Player of the Year honors this year, and also finished on the SSAC First Team and All-Rookie teams.
As the governing body of collegiate tennis, the ITA promotes both the athletic and academic achievements of varsity collegiate tennis players. The ITA, which is comprised of nearly 1,700 men's and women's varsity coaches and 20,000 student-athletes from over 1,200 institutions, has a comprehensive awards program for players and coaches to honor excellence in academics, leadership, sportsmanship and athletic performance. Awards are given to both men and women, on the Regional and National levels to all Divisions represented within the ITA (NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA, and Community and Junior Colleges). The ITA annually recognizes over 3,000 student-athletes on an individual and team basis from over 500 different varsity tennis programs. More than 300 coaches participate in the award selection process, serving on Regional and/or National selection committees. For more information on the ITA Awards program, please visit http://www.itatennis.com/